Bangladesh: a gigantic fire devastates a clothing market in Dhaka

Hundreds of firefighters managed to control, Tuesday in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, a gigantic fire which devastated a popular clothing market, after several hours of fighting against the infernal inferno

Bangladesh: a gigantic fire devastates a clothing market in Dhaka

Hundreds of firefighters managed to control, Tuesday in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, a gigantic fire which devastated a popular clothing market, after several hours of fighting against the infernal inferno.

According to the country's fire chief, Brigadier General Main Uddin, the fire was brought under control thanks to the 600 firefighters mobilized throughout the city and its region to fight the fire which broke out around 6 a.m. ( 00:00 GMT).

For more than six hours, they fought the flames as a strong wind spread the fire to other buildings and suffocated the old quarters of the capital with black smoke. Hundreds of onlookers had gathered nearby to watch the disaster.

"An overexcited crowd and a lack of water" made operations difficult, added Main Uddin.

Shop owners and fire officials said the famous Bongo Bazar market, dating from 1980, and three adjacent smaller markets were devastated.

At least 11 people were injured, including five firefighters, police inspector Bacchu Mia said, adding that "their condition was not critical".

The nearby fire brigade headquarters was attacked by a group of angry shopkeepers with stones, Dhaka police spokesman Faruq Ahmed said.

Some 450 officers had to be deployed to fight this mob and stop the looting of clothes.

“We dispersed them,” added the same source, explaining that these people were undoubtedly frustrated by the slowness in bringing the fire under control.

The four markets, located in Fulbaria, one of the busiest areas of the city, housed thousands of clothing shops, according to traders.

"Thousands of crores (hundreds of millions of dollars) worth of clothes have gone up in smoke," Helal Uddin, president of the business owners' association, told reporters.

According to Brigadier General Main Uddin, the Bongo Bazar market, filled with clothes and designed in planks and tin, presented a "risk" of fire reported as early as 2019.

"Since then, we've sent him 10 (warning) letters," Uddin said.

Army, Navy and Air Force crews were deployed to help bring the blaze under control, according to military authorities.

"A Bangladesh Air Force helicopter also joined in the firefighting efforts," a military spokesman said.

Shop owners are in shock, sitting on the pavement in tears, desperate to see stocks of clothes they had planned to sell for Eid, the most important Muslim holiday of the year, go up in smoke.

"I lost everything. I borrowed 1.5 million taka ($14,200) to buy clothes for Eid," the shop owner said in tears.

Bongo Bazar is one of the main markets in Dhaka where clothes, produced for major Western brands in factories in Bangladesh and rejected at quality control, are sold at ridiculous prices.

Fires and explosions due to leaking gas cylinders, faulty air conditioners and poor electrical wiring are common in Bangladesh.

Last month, at least 23 people were killed in an explosion at a central market in the capital, blamed on misfiring gas.

In 2022, a fire that broke out at a container depot in the port city of Chittagong killed more than 50 people.

04/04/2023 14:03:43 -        Dacca (AFP)           © 2023 AFP